Handyman jobs completed – 2016 Highlights (Part 1)

Handyman jobs completed – 2016 Highlights (Part 1)

Since 2016 is drawing to a close, I decided to highlight some of my more “interesting” jobs.  What makes them “interesting” you may ask, well continue reading to find out!  This is only Part 1.  Stay tuned for more.  

Deck/Bulkhead Repair

This house was located along Buffalo Bayou and had a beautiful deck almost directly over the Bayou.  With all the heavy rains Houston received during 2016, Buffalo Bayou was well above its normal levels for an extended period of time.  As a result, the bayou started to cut the bank REALLY close to the bulkhead.  This resulted in the riprap between the bulkhead and native soil (that the house was built on) shifting and knocking down a lot of the bulkhead boards.  Also, whoever built the bulkhead in the first place used sheetrock screws (they should have used deck screws) that were way too short.  They barely made it through the 2x6s and into to vertical supports.  The screws that didn’t get knocked out by the force of the falling riprap, simply broke because they were so rusty.  

The other contributing factor to the demise of the bulkhead was broken gutter downspouts.  The gutters were originally constructed to carry rainwater out from under the bulkhead, but over time, some of the connections broke.  As a result, a lot of rainwater was being directed into the riprap, which caused erosion, which caused the riprap to shift.  The shifting riprap hit the bulkhead that was constructed with now rusty sheetrock screws… and that spelled trouble.   

The homeowner actually had several people come look at the job, but none were willing to tackle it.  I actually tried to turn the job down too, there were just too many unknowns.  I tried to offer the homeowner some solutions and even gave him the names of some construction guys I know.  But, after talking with me and seeing that I approach things from a scientific viewpoint (Hey I’m a geologist after all), the homeowner decided I was the man for the job.  So, on one steamy June morning my brother-in-law (who is an engineer) and I climbed under the deck and started work on the bulkhead.  

First we reattached all of the horizontal boards using 4.5 inch long SPAX construction screws that were rated for use with pressure-treated wood.  I was really amazed at how well our Rigid impact drivers drove these monster screws into the wood.  Once that was done, we added additional horizontal boards to the bottom of the structure to prevent any additional riprap from escaping.  As you can see in the pictures, the new boards aren’t perfectly level.  This actually drives me crazy to this day (I’m just a little OCD), but due to field conditions (i.e., tree roots, concrete footings, and riprap that just couldn’t be moved), this was the best we could do.  The final step was to recover and move what riprap we could to fill in the voids.  

While we were under there, we also repaired some loose boards that were associated with the deck above.  After that, we repaired the loose boards on the deck.  

Oh, I almost forgot to mention… The homeowner kept a fresh pitcher of iced-tea handy at all times.  It truly was some of the best tea I’ve ever had.  

To be continued…  

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